After eight years of swallowing massive, co-pay-coated promises of “universal health care,” it’s a relief that a substantive debate is opening up around single-payer health care during this election cycle. However, too many conversations on this issue are being halted by calls of “impracticality.” Real health care for all would be nice, we are told, but there’s just no room for it in the budget.
What’s rarely mentioned in these “no room” conversations is that the current version of the budget – the place where our taxes go and metamorphose into services and activities that are supposed to support us – is extremely bad for our health.
Much of our tax money, on both the federal and state levels, is funneled toward activities that are literally killing people. Instead of dismissing “health care for all” as an appealing-but-unachievable dream, we need to talk about how we can shift our overall funding priorities from a framework of death and destruction to one of life and healing.
In mid-February, the Obama administration released its 2017 budget proposal, in which almost $623 billion is allocated to the Pentagon and related spending. The Pentagon alone snags $583 billion, receiving a $2 billion raise over last year, according to a National Priorities Project analysis.
Less than 2 percent of Pentagon funds would go toward “fighting ISIS.” (The idea that ISIS can be effectively “fought” is, of course, a highly problematic prospect – but even if you think it can, that’s not where your taxes are flowing.)
Plus, the 2017 budget proposal includes a $59 billion Pentagon slush fund, which allows the military to break congressionally set caps on its spending over the course of the year.